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Jared Bernhardt, the 2021 Tewaaraton Award winner who then won a Division II football national championship as the quarterback at Ferris State less than a year later, has taken the next step in his NFL career. On Tuesday, Bernhardt was named to the 53-man roster of the Atlanta Falcons after an eye-opening preseason performance.

Bernhardt, 24, played in three preseason contests and caught five passes for 102 yards and a touchdown — including a great grab in traffic off a throw by rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder that won the Falcons its opening preseason game over Detroit.

Bernhardt, a high school and college quarterback who worked out at multiple positions at the Maryland Pro Day, provides versatility and athleticism to a rebuilding Falcons team. A project at this point in his career given his limited football experience compared to his peers, Bernhardt turned heads throughout the preseason to surprise insiders by earning a roster spot.

At Ferris State, Bernhardt proved he belonged back on the gridiron, passing for 1,322 yards, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions and rushing for 1,421 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Bulldogs went 14-0 and defeated Valdosta State 58-17 in the national title game.

Tight end Kyle Pitts is the top receiving option for Atlanta, and running back Cordarrelle Patterson is also a receiving threat. That means Bernhardt, who is likely the No. 5 wide receiver on the depth chart, could be limited primarily to special teams work at the start.

Either way, Bernhardt is officially in the NFL.


Tom Kennedy, a former Bryant football and lacrosse player, was waived by the Detroit Lions late Monday. He played 12 games last season for Detroit, including throwing a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kalif Raymond on a gadget play.

The 5-10, 195-pound slot receiver led the Lions this preseason in receptions (16), receiving yards (143) and receiving touchdowns (two). It was the second straight preseason that Kennedy, who was once rostered by the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse, led the Lions in receiving.

Overall, the 26-year-old has caught six passes for 54 yards in 13 career NFL games.